LOWER YAKIMA VALLEY — With the release of the Yakima Health District (YHD) guidance for reopening schools in hybrid model, schools across the valley have been making moves to plan a return to in-person and hybrid learning.
YHD recommended to return back to school in a staggered start, with three week intervals between elementary, middle school, and high school.
Grandview School District originally announced their staggered start dates as Oct. 19, preschool returning in-person and kindergarten through third grade return to hybrid, Oct. 26 as third, fourth, fifth grade start, Nov. 9 for middle school, and Nov. 30 for high school.
However, on Friday, Oct. 9, the district updated their start dates and made the decision to push back the start of their hybrid learning model to start on Oct. 26 for preschool through fifth, setting back the calendar for middle schoolers and high schoolers as well, with Grandview Middle School beginning Monday, Nov. 16, and at Grandview High School on Monday, Dec. 7.
In a letter to the community on their district website, Grandview School District stated, “We know that making these shifts is a challenge to everyone and we want to give families as much time as possible to prepare.”
Granger School District Superintendent Brian Hart confirmed there will be a board study session on Oct. 21 to decide on a target date to get back to school.
In the meantime, the target dates projected are for Roosevelt Elementary School to begin Nov. 2, Granger Middle School on Nov. 30, and Granger High School on Jan. 4.
Hart reiterated the staggered start dates are in accordance with guidance from YHD. The later start dates are due to Hart expressing in August to staff, families and stakeholders that Granger would be online through October 30.
“I did this so that our families and staff could plan and make the necessary arrangements for childcare, etc. October 30th is also the end of the first quarter for students,” the superintendent illustrated.
He added, “Nov. 2 gives us the necessary time to plan instructionally and operationally for the return of students that are consistent with the Yakima Department of Health guidelines.”
Superintendent Dr. Joseph Castilleja released a memorandum regarding an update to the reopening plan per board resolution no. 08-10-20-08 from Aug. 10, declaring “The Board recognizes that the circumstances related to reopening schools safely are mutable, and the reopening requires monitoring an possible revision.”
The school board met on Oct. 9 and concluded to continue the remote learning for families that elect for it and bring students back to campus.
The dates announced ro a return to a full in-person model, beginning on Oct. 26 with preschool through third, then on Nov. 2 for fourth through sixth grade, Nov. 16 for middle schoolers, and Nov. 30 for high schoolers.
Dr. Castilleja shared, “At this time, one-third of our student body is planning to stay online. If that holds true, we actually have room for all students to attend full school days. If the online student numbers shrink, we will have to re-evaluate and go to a partial day.”
Mabton is looking at a school week of Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, with Wednesdays designated for asynchronous work at home for students, allowing for a mid-week cleaning and a reset point for teachers and staff for planning.
Prosser School District (PSD) Superintendent Matt Ellis announced in a letter to the district that while the Franklin-Benton Health District and YHD have supported the reopening of schools, Prosser will move at their own pace to “make locally based decisions about reopening.”
Ellis stated maintaining the health and wellness of children has been a priority and is the essential reason why PSD has engaged in preventative measures to limit access to buildings.
“As we have worked with experts from our county and state, we have learned that the risk of transmitting the virus is still a factor and that when the district reopens; we will need to develop safety protocols and procedures for our staff and students,” Ellis communicated.
Zillah School District announced their students will participate in an a.m./p.m. model – which is unlike the alternating A/B scheduling most schools have opted for – beginning also on Oct. 26 with preschool and fifth grade, then Nov. 16 for middle schoolers, and finally Dec. 1 for high schoolers.
Assistant Superintendent Justin Irion confirmed The a.m./p.m. model will split students into two groups, with the morning group starting their day at approximately 8 a.m. to about 10:30 a.m. The afternoon group will start at about 12:30 p.m. and end their day at 3 p.m.
As for the learning aspect, “When students are on-site, the focus is going to be on literacy and mathematics, with embedding social studies and science concept in instruction,” Irion detailed. Specialist programs like Physical Education will be implemented synchronously at home.
Zillah students can expect a five-day school week as Irion explained, “We feel that the a.m./p.m. model provides a better cycle of instruction and learning.”